Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and fellow Democratic Senators Ben Cardin, Jeanne Shaheen, and Chris Coons introduced the Heroes Small Business Lifeline Act October 20, bringing $370 billion in relief that’s included in the House of Representative’s Heroes Act to the Senate floor.
One of the Heroes Act sections included in the package is Section 619, known as the Save Our Stages Act. The program, as proposed in the Senate, actually increases the $10 billion in allocations approved by the House to $15 billion, to be distributed as grants of up to $12 million to theatre operators and producers and more.
The proposal stipulates that in the first 14 days of the program, grants would be awarded to businesses that have faced 90 percent or greater revenue loss, followed by a 14-day period for businesses down at least 70 percent, with remaining eligible entities to follow. The funds would go toward such expenses as rent, utilities, and employee payroll and PPE.
The Small Business Lifeline Act also includes direct appropriations to such initiatives as the Minority Business Development Agency, loan forgiveness simplifications, the Restaurants Act, and an extended Paycheck Protection Program (including expanded eligibility) through March 31, 2021.
The Broadway League, which has rallied for congressional support of Save Our Stages—including with Schumer at a September conference in Times Square—applauded the move in a statement, noting that the bill would “address relief for the hardest-hit and underserved small businesses including Broadway…that have been left behind in this pandemic.”
The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives unveiled their updated Heroes Act in late September; it officially passed the House October 1. Its future is less certain on the floor of the Republican-led Senate, however. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing for his party’s slimmer bill, which would provide $500 billion in aid—as opposed to the $2.2 trillion allocated in the updated Heroes Act or the $1.8 trillion counter from the White House—with a refusal of negotiation bringing both to a standstill. Even if the Senate moves forward with a vote on the Small Business Lifeline Act (or the Heroes Act at large), it would need considerable (and unexpected) bipartisan support to pass.